Fregola pasta with lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and fresh herbs are just some of the healthy ingredients in this Italian pasta salad. Great tasting and as a bonus, the leftovers of this fregola recipe make the best-packed lunches!
Today, I will be singing the praises of this humble and healthy lentil fregola salad.
Made with a few of my favorite ingredients (hopefully yours too) and some fresh herbs and spices, you will quickly fall in love with this salad recipe.
Let’s take a closer look at the two main ingredients -fregola and lentils.
What is fregola
Fregola also referred to as fregula or fregola sarda, is a wonderful hand-made spherical pasta originating from Sardinia. Just in case you are wondering, fregola can be found in most Italian specialty stores. It can easily be found online as well.
What does fregola look like?
As you can see, fregola is tiny little beads of semolina, slightly larger in size when compared to Israeli couscous that is toasted. This process creates different color variations, from tan to dark brown; these different colors contribute to the final dish’s visual rustic appeal. As we all know, we eat with our eyes first!
What does fregola feel like?
The process of roasting these little beads of semolina will create a rough surface with a great absorbability factor. As a result, it is great with sauces. Fregola’s firm texture is a welcome addition to many salads as well.
Roasting the fregola also enhances another one of our five senses… taste!
What does fregola taste like?
Given that it is pasta, fregola tastes surprisingly nutty. This unique flavor contribution, combined with its chewy texture, makes it an ideal ingredient to use in salads.
There isn’t much that I can say about this wonderful legume that I haven’t already said in this post about using lentils as a meal prep solution.
- Both accessible and affordable.
- Easy to prepare (rinse, simmer, serve).
- So healthy for you.
They can also easily be incorporated into almost any dish. One of my favorites is this Italian lentil soup recipe.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. If you want to know more about lentils, there are videos and cooking tutorials available on the Lentils.org website. I encourage you to check this website out as it is such a great reference for anyone that wants to learn more about lentils!
I’ve probably talked enough about my two favorite ingredients… let’s make this healthy fregola pasta salad!
We will need two pots, one to cook the lentils and the other to cook the fregola.
In the first pot, place about 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Then add 1 cup of lentils (green or brown) and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the lentils reach the stage where they still have a nice chew to them.
In the other pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 bay leaf, and 1 cup of fregola. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-12 minutes (or according to package cooking time). The texture we are looking for is al dente, just like any other pasta.
While the lentils and the fregola are simmering, we can get started on the vinaigrette.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1½ tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon zest. If you like a little heat, go ahead and add a few pinches of hot pepper flakes. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
Once the fregola is cooked, drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Remove the bay leaf and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss together.
Next, add ⅓ cup of chopped Italian flatleaf parsley, ¼ cup chopped fresh chives, ¼ cup finely chopped celery, ⅓ cup of sun-dried tomatoes, ¼ cup black olives. Add the vinaigrette and combine it thoroughly together.
The lentils will take a little longer to cook, but when they are done, add them in.
Combine and season with salt and pepper according to personal taste. One final drizzle of olive oil or a generous squirt of lemon juice and you’re done!
- The addition of toasted almonds or walnuts compliments the nuttiness of the fregola. They also some great texture.
- Serve this salad warm, at room temperature or even cold.
- The leftovers make for great lunches!
Easy lentil recipes we love
Fregola is, without a doubt, a household favorite. Its nuttiness and unique texture elevate any dish it is in.
My family loves it in pasta salads. More often than not, we don’t even use a recipe. We start adding fresh and wholesome ingredients together and taste as we go along.
This particular recipe was the result of my daughter and me experimenting and having fun in the kitchen.
As a result of its versatility, you can combine it with nearly any herb and vegetable you have on hand.
But don’t take my word for it… try it for yourself and be sure to leave a comment!
I love to hear about your recipes that include fregola.
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
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Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this Lentil Salad recipe, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Fregola pasta with Lentils
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup lentils brown or green
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup fregola sarda
- ⅓ cup parsley Italian, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chives fresh, chopped
- ¼ cup celery finely chopped
- ⅓ cup sundried tomatoes
- ¼ cup black olives chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil separated
- 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch chili optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup walnuts chopped, roasted
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In the first medium-sized saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to boil.
- Add lentils; reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked but still have a bite to them.
- In the second medium-sized saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Add salt, bay leaf, and fregola; reduce heat and simmer for about 12 -14 minutes or until al dente.
- In the meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the ingredients.
- Once the fregola is cooked, drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to keep the fregola from drying out. Discard bay leaf.
- Add the chopped parsley, chives, celery, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Add the vinaigrette and combine it thoroughly together.
- By this time, the lentils should be done. Drain and combine with the salad.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Once the salad has been plated, drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the top.
- Sprinkle with toasted walnuts, if using.